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The Saga in Center Continues; with Plenty of Intrigue Provided

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It was around this time last year much debate was hashed about Jon Jay being unseated by then newly acquired Peter Bourjos. At the time, it was widely considered, by many, that Bourjos was going to be the starting center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals starting the 2014 season. However, that notion of thought came to an end after Jay essentially outplayed Bourjos in Spring Training to coincide with Bourjos’s injury maladies that plagued him throughout the year.  So, we all know what came to fruition: Bourjos rode the pine while Jay received the bulk of the starting time. That said, despite Jay’s solid offensive numbers, I wouldn’t be too quick to brand Jon Jay the starting position in 2015.

Sure, Jay had a nice year last year, if not his best; however he has been a league-average player at best–excluding 2013.  Jay has been a nice complementary player for the bulk of his career. He is a two war player, worthy of being on a Major League roster; however, he isn’t one to overwhelm with his talents. He’s a guy that’s played mostly out of necessity and is overall a hard-worker and a good teammate. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jay. I do. He’s been good for the Cardinals, especially considering other previous, potentially clubhouse cancerous, options that have preceded him, with Colby Rasmus coming to mind. Offensively, Jon Jay is somewhat an exception to the rule and that exception makes one question, how long can he keep this up? On the surface, Jay has one attribute that is probably more valuable than anything else–his ability to get on base.  Jay has a .359 career OBP; however, that coincides with a career BABIP of .345, which would explain the higher OBP. While Jay is coming off of his best year to date statistically, a deeper look at those stats might suggest that last season was somewhat of an anomaly. There is a lot to suggest that Jay’s career high in OBP is  related to his career high BABIP of .363. In his career, Jay has never come close to such a number regarding BABIP. Meanwhile, his walk rate went down significantly, so did his power output, along with his strikeout rate climbing. If these trends continue, and his BABIP regresses to the mean, his value will plummet significantly. It is not a good sign for a player who is about to turn 30 and is getting more expensive now that he has entered his arbitration years.

Lastly, there is Peter Bourjos. We all know about the competition that Jay won out, but it is left to wonder how much of an impact did Bourjos’s injuries affect his offensive output. On top of his limited playing time, he also just simply did not produce at the level needed to warrant playing time. Point blank. If he can create a line like this: .271/.327/.438/.335 wRC+ 114; which is what he did for the Angels in 147 games in 2011; his only full season in the majors.  While the offense might not pop out at you; he did produce the same amount of wRC+ that Jay posted this year. However, it all remains to be seen whether he can stay healthy or even come close to replicating those numbers again. If he does, he’ll have no problem dispelling Jay as the starting center fielder. Those offensive numbers combined with his defense would make him much more valuable to the Cardinals than Jon Jay. It goes without saying this is a pivotal year for him as a Cardinal and maybe his career. Time will tell all.  Then again, Magneuris Sierra may have something to say about all this a few years down the road; however, that’s a story for another time.

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